Featured, Race & Politics

Cinco De Mayo Is The Super Bowl Of Cultural Appropriation

“It’s that time of the year again.” (In my Jay Pharoah voice)

The biggest celebration of cultural appropriation is about to go down. Unless of course you had an early start like Baylor University’s chapter of Kappa Sigma, which threw a “Mexican-Themed” party this past weekend. “Cinco de Drinko” was the kickoff event for what was going to be an epic week of cultural appropriation, until the fraternity was suspended. C’mon! Kids will be kids, right? Who would’ve thought dressing up as maids, construction workers, and chanting “build that wall” could be interpreted as racist? Leave it up to those politically correct students and administrators with their damn anti-racist stances and offices of equity and inclusion. Anyways, tonight is the night. Bars, restaurants, and frat houses will be packed with people donning sombreros, dining on authentic Mexican cuisine like nachos, tacos, and burritos while knocking down margaritas and shots of tequila.

I would think Halloween’s “my culture is not your costume” campaign would educate folks that race, culture, and ethnicity are not Pinterest dress-up and party ideas. Seriously, is there not anything remotely close to a moment of clarity where someone in your racist group of friends suggests that maybe, just maybe, dressing up in Black face or as an “Indian Warrior,” “Geisha” or “Pocahottie” (Yes, Pocahottie is a real thing) is a bad idea?

In 2017, ignorance is no longer justification for the racist behavior we have and unfortunately will see this and future “Cinco De Mayos.” I implore you to please remove the sombreros and put down the tacos and alcohol this May 5th. However, if you are still uncertain as to how “Cinco De Mayo” is racist, here are a few points of reflection:

1. If you equate celebrating Cinco De Mayo to the U.S. celebrating the Fourth of July; you are not just racist, but a dumbass as well. Cinco De Mayo has nothing to do with Mexican independence. It commemorates Mexico’s victory over France during the battle of Puebla on, you guessed it, May 5th (1862). It’s a minor holiday that people in Mexico hardly celebrate.

2. Cinco De Mayo symbolizes a victory against imperialism and oppression. So, if you’re celebrating Cinco De Mayo, but do not advocate for immigration rights or against the harassing, inhumane, and oppressive practices of ICE then go fuck yourself. (If you have to google ICE then you know what you can do.)

3. In fact, if you celebrate Cinco De Mayo in a manner that commodifies and exploits culture you are engaging in “imperialist nostalgia.” In Eating the Other, bell hooks discusses that “In mass culture, imperialist nostalgia takes the form of reenacting and reritualizing in different ways the imperialist, colonizing journey as narrative fantasy of power and desire, of seduction by the Other.” In other words, white desire for Latinx culture.

4. Still unsure how appropriating Cinco De Mayo works? Here are a few real-life examples illustrating how your Cinco De Mayo celebration can go terribly wrong. These examples are courtesy of the experts in “racially-themed” parties, Duke University’s Program in Education (PiE). PiE has years of experience in cultural appropriation. Their resume includes Asian, India, Italian, and Latino themed parties. Their Latino-themed party, “Fiesta Time,” is a prime example of what not to do.

A) First of all, in the case of PiE, if you are going to throw a “Latino-themed” party and attempt to argue that it is not racist at least make sure you schedule it on May 5th.

B) Scroll through these slides from PiE’s “Fiesta Time” welcome back party. An all white guest list to a “Latino-themed” party is a clear indication that some racist shit is about to go down.   

C) Brown face is Brown face. Whether you actually dress up or have your image photoshopped with clipart depicting stereotypical Latino caricatures, it’s still racist. However, if you’re going to engage in Brown face at least make sure it’s photoshopped. That way when the images surface on the front page of the newspaper you can blame that one staff member no one remembers from way back when.

D) Whether you purchase sombreros and maracas from Party City or use sombreros, maracas, and chihuahua graphics in your photos, It’s still racist. (Side note: If you are going to Tweet, Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat think twice before using emojis like ? ?)

E) When your racist images go viral and you have to issue a statement, do us all a favor and just own your racist behavior. Refrain from using words like “insensitive” and “inappropriate” to describe your racism. You know what’s insensitive? When I go to the kitchen to get something to drink and don’t ask my wife if I can get her something. You know what’s inappropriate? When I take my kids (2, 6, and 8 years old) to a restaurant and they are standing on their chairs fighting over the bread as the server places it on the middle of table. Systemic white supremacy refuses to name incidents like “racially-themed” parties for what they are. Fucking racist. I get it; the resistance to name those parties as anything but racist is out of fear of accountability. Also, if you claim that the intentions of your “Latino-themed” party was to “highlight different foods” make sure you have at least one photo highlighting the different food. However, that’s neither here nor there, the real issue at hand is minimizing Latinx cultures to simply food; literally Eating the Other.

My intention in writing this piece is not to convince people to stay home tonight, but think twice before claiming to be Mexican for the evening. This is not some real-life Mexican temporary Facebook profile picture that expires on May 6th. As part of Mental Health month, understand that you will never understand how appropriating Cinco De Mayo contributes to the racial fatigue Mexican communities encounter. This goes to other Non-Mexican communities of color as well. POC can also appropriate Cinco De Mayo. And to all my double standard, reverse racism claiming racist, wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day is not equivalent to wearing a sombrero and fake moustache on Cinco De Mayo. By the way, if you assumed I was Mexican for writing this piece you assumed incorrectly. Yo Soy Boricua. However, I do stand in solidarity with Mexican and Chicanx communities working toward dismantling the systemic white supremacy that invades our everyday lives.

¡Ya basta!

Jason Mendez

Jason Mendez, PhD is an educator, author, and co-founder of the arts collective Sons of the Boogie. He received his Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in Curriculum, Culture, and Change from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His interests include urban education, critical race studies, cultural studies, arts as social justice, Boricua identities, and South Bronx culture and history. His work focuses on males of color and traditionally underserved and underrepresented populations in postsecondary education.

  • CrankUpThe_AC

    Much respect for this post.

  • Diego Duarte

    Thanks for this, though I’m not Mexican I definitely feel this post on a spiritual level. I find it beyond “ironic” that Americans love Latin American culture but hate Latinos with burning passion. White Americans can’t cook to save their lives (nor do menial tasks it seems). What would they be without us and Blacks?

    • HouseSublime

      What gets me more is people who claim Latinos/latinas are taking all the American jobs but also at the same time say latinos/latinas are lazy freeloaders. How Sway? How can one be lazy and taking jobs at the same damn time?

      • Diego Duarte

        Schrödinger’s Latino fam: being lazy and living off of welfare and taking your job at the same time. We’re sneaky like that.

        • Spicy Kas

          Let’s not forget the 20 white guy’s that didn’t get the job because of affirmative action. Meanwhile there is one POC at the entire firm.

          • Lillyhsoutherland

            Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours & have longer with friends and family! !so63c:
            On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. Follow this link for more information
            !so63c:
            ??
            ??;?? http://GoogleFinancialCashJobs353TopRapidGetPaid$97/Hour ????????????????????????????????????????????????????::::::!so63c:….,….

            • Lina

              Uhhhh, puhlease cut that crap and stop playing us. It is a well known, egregious fact that Silicon Valley…and specifically Google is right up there with Apple and Facebook at having huge sick issues with the ethnic and gender diversity of their workforce….the exception being males from the Indian sub-continent and select Asian nations with H-B1 visas.

          • TheUnsungStoryteller

            They stay mad. #StayMadAbby

            • Enriquetahstyer


              Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours & have longer with friends and family! !sp87c:
              On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. Follow this link for more information
              !sp87c:
              ??
              ??;?? http://GoogleFinancialCashJobs377NetworkFashionGetPaid$97/Hour ????????????????????????????????????????????????????::::::!sp87c:….,……

          • DrDynduMcNuffinz

            Talk about cultural appropriation, you niqqers are on the Internet, invented by the White man. You niqqers want nothing more than to be White. You bleach your hides, straighten your fur, all to look more White. Real niqqers live in mud huts in da muddalant. Living in houses, driving cars, eating Italian food are all White things. Cease and desist niqqers.

            http://lithobolos.net/system/files/styles/node_gallery_display/private/node_gallery/blacks-without-whites-vice-versa.jpg?itok=vycVqA58

        • Best. Response. Ever.

          You win the internet.

        • Mochasister

          Lol!

        • Junegirl627

          Not us sneaky as us welfare queen negros. So stop trying to steal our freeloader ways!!

          • Diego Duarte

            Junegirl what type of lamborghini are you driving after defrauding those poor rural Whites? Also, I’m curious, does the title of Welfare Queen come with a crown and a scepter?

            • Junegirl627

              Lamborghini!! Boy bye Lambos are sooo 1990’s gansta rap. I bought a Tesla concept car with my food stamps!!! Because I like being able to make my haters hate in clusters. So now my fiscal conservatives, climate change deniers, and good old fashion Klansman can circle jerk themselves while listening to kid rock and fantasizing about me and Sarah Palin getting it on in the Tesla.

        • Gibbous

          “Schrödinger’s Latino” KILLING ME!

      • TheUnsungStoryteller

        It reminds me of the old slavery and Jim Crow illustrations and caricatures of us being lazy when that was so far from the truth.

        • Junegirl627

          Never forget black people started being called lazy once they had to pay us for our labor

      • Junegirl627

        They’re taking the lazy jobs like corporate CEO, EEO officer, and now President.

    • Stuck in Europe begging for crumbs from the nobility.

    • soraya

      I hate Cinco de mayo so much because of stuff like this but in my city, Dia de los muertos grates me more. It’s an excuse for a bunch of white hipsters to dress up in sugar skulls and post pictures like they’re the one that discovered it.

      • Diego Duarte

        Yup. White people hate on Latinos while they claim the “cooler” parts of our culture, all the while. It’s how in Texas everyone likes Mexican food, but you’d never know it the way they voted last election.

      • Mija… they have made an entire day of it with little projects for the chirren and shyt. Like wtf?

        I am low key happy that all the know about black latin culture is salsa. lol

        • soraya

          A few months back one of the supervisors in my department suggested a salsa contest and i don’t think anyone signed up and she started cornering the Puerto Rican women in our office about the salsas they were gonna bring and one just gave her the deadest fish eyed stare and said they didn’t do salsa.

          Anyhow, happy monday! hope everyone has a great week. :)

    • TheUnsungStoryteller

      Say it again for the ones in the back, yo!!!!!!! I especially see a lot of this in Houston. I tutor rich, white kids sometimes where they have house maids who are at the house more than their parents are. They do everything!!! Funny thing is, it seems like the help gets more respect than the parent.

    • Us and blacks? Normally, I rock with you.. not on this one, Manito.

      I can’t separate being black from either parent…Latino or not… and Latinos only include THEIR blacks when they need numbers.

    • Junegirl627

      Yessss!!! Oh I got on my soap box this weekend because I just saw the trailer for the new Amy Shumer movie where her and her mom go on a tropical vacation and end up kidnapped and chased throught the jungle by blood thristy locals who must have a potato fetish because they want her potato headedass

    • YoBunnyBunny

      White Americans can’t cook to save their lives (nor do menial tasks it seems). What would they be without us and Blacks?

      TGI Fridays, probably.

  • blueevey

    Lol at “authentic Mexican food of nachos, burritos and tacos.”

    –token Mexican on vsb.

  • Rewind4ThatBehind

    Salute Jason.

    Good piece right here. I’ll add one last to the list.

    If you happen to feel like speaking your broken a$$ textbook Spanish to anyone who looks remotely Hispanic today, then patting yourself on the back, by Santa Maria herself, I pray you take a few shots of tequila, wake up tomorrow in a cold sweat, face unimaginable pain for days, go to the hospital, get an X-ray, be told you have a parasite inside of you, and after an emergency procedure to remove it, be told after the fact that you’ve got a couple dozen eggs laid inside of you.

    Because you are basura.

    • Diego Duarte

      In my entire life I’ve only met two Americans, among thousands, who are able to speak Spanish without a heavy accent. They will straight up butcher it.

      “Because you are basura.”

      Haaaaaaaaaaaa

      • Rewind4ThatBehind

        I HATE hearing Americans who don’t speak Spanish try to use textbook Spanish.

        I will gladly follow the lead of any of my Puerto Rican or Dominican friends, they help you with accents & inflections.

        But those damn Rosetta Stone lessons they be taking got them feeling sooooo smart.

        • Diego Duarte

          Been trying to teach my future brother-in-law how to speak Spanish. He gets frustrated because we use slang a lot (and pronounces this weird Russian “r” instead of the Spanish one).

          • Kylroy

            Would that Russian “r” are be more back than middle of the mouth?

            • Diego Duarte

              No, from what I’ve heard from him it’s more to the front of the mouth. The French “r” would be the one that’s more to the back of the mouth.

              • Kylroy

                Just wondering. I’m monolingual but have a choral background, so I was taught to hammer pronunciation hard.

      • raul

        I’m so pleased with myself that I abandoned trying to bust out my god awful high school Spanish skills long ago. I was at this fancy Mexican place with a guy from work a little while back who tried it and man was it cringe worthy. And this dude minored in Spanish and did a semester somewhere in South America.

        • Diego Duarte

          Ah, so you’re of Latino ancestry but you don’t speak Spanish?

          • raul

            No Raul’s just my alter ego. A restaurant manager that I worked for a long time ago nick named me Raul for reasons unknown and I always liked the sound of it.

    • Love Heals

      “…to anyone who looks remotely Hispanic…” I appreciate your addition. It has to be some kind of irritating to be on the receiving end of that mess for those with the “presumed Hispanic look”. Meanwhile, I am also disgusted by the shocked and impressed expressions of some at the discovery of white-skinned Latinos, which is typically contrasted with the disapproving and incredulous glances at those of mostly African descent. It’s like the idea of belonging in the U.S. We all either “look” American or none of us does, yet many (both within and outside the States), have an rigid idea of what a “real” American looks like. Sigh.

  • raul

    Gonna need a potato salad ruling here cause that’s definitely German.

    • Zil Nabu

      We made it better.

      • Rewind4ThatBehind

        With this magic invention called seasoning that they never heard of.

      • raul

        Which is subjective and no less appropriative.

        • Zil Nabu

          Objectively, German potato salad tastes like shyt.

      • Spicy Kas

        Africans or your better half?

        • Zil Nabu

          My other, yet equally great as the African side.

          • Spicy Kas

            Only one side has Neanderthal genes. Where I from, more means better.

            • Zil Nabu

              Boy sitcho can’t no side of my family outrun a slave catcher a$$ down somewhere.

              • Spicy Kas

                Well that was just fucking savage. In our defense, we had heard it was a lovely boat ride.

                • Zil Nabu

                  Just like JaRule convinced the rich instakids that Frye Festival was a luxury musical event. Y’all both got played.

                  • Spicy Kas

                    White people tell I’m better off. I believe them.

                    • Zil Nabu

                      They also told you that your name was Toby.

                    • Spicy Kas

                      Close

              • Spicy Kas

                I think I liked it better when you pretended to be a happy go lucky lover of breakfast carbs.

                • Zil Nabu

                  I am many things. My love of breakfast carbs is very real.

      • Ms George Zip

        German potato salad is served warm and runny and looks like throwup.

    • Diego Duarte

      You sure? Potatoes are Peruvian, they literally did not grow anywhere else in the world until they were exported by the Spanish conquistadores.

      • raul

        Yeah and I said potato salad not potatoes and either way it’s most certainly not of African origin.

        • Diego Duarte

          True.

      • Kylroy

        Well, and tomatoes are also from the Americas, but damned if we’d recognize Italian cooking without them.

        • AzucarNegra

          And pasta is Chinese

        • Diego Duarte

          Actually, people and restaurants hardly use any tomato sauce on things such as pizza anymore. I noticed just recently when I went and ate at this place and got hit with a ton of nostalgia bricks. Thought to myself the entire time “So that’s what had been missing!”.

          • Kylroy

            I have….*opinions* on pizza lacking tomato in any form. And wait, as in you ate at a place that *did* include tomato sauce in it’s recipes.

            • Diego Duarte

              Thing is, domino’s, pizza hut and most popular pizzerias use a brand of tomato sauce (or so little of it) you BARELY notice it. This pizza I ate had freshly done, homemade tomato sauce on it. It was sooo delicious. It was like the old-time pizzas I used to eat. Back when Pizza Hut was actually a good pizzeria and such. They really screwed up that recipe a long time ago…

          • raul

            Well there’s prolly some tomato sauce in there but you just can’t taste it over all the sugar cause heaven forbid every food item does taste like a candy bar.

            • Diego Duarte

              This. Americans have a “problem” with sugar.

          • LMNOP

            Wait, what?? Pizza hardly has tomato sauce anymore?

            • Diego Duarte

              You haven’t noticed?

  • grownandsexy2

    In other Cinco De Mayo news, they won’t be parading in Philly.

    http://www.phillymag.com/news/2017/03/20/philly-largest-cinco-de-mayo-canceled/

    • Diego Duarte

      To think Mexicans are straight up choosing not to celebrate their heritage in fear of repression speaks volumes of the current administration, and the people who voted for this.

    • With a little luck, they’ll raid Fat Tuesday’s on South street, and snap up all the drunk frat folk with fake moustaches and dolla sto sombreros.

      • Diego Duarte

        That would be hilarious! Can you imagine if someone called up ICE and told them there are a bunch of “illegals” at the frat next door and prompted a raid on campus?

        Someone needs to get on this.

        • OweMeOne Kenobi

          Already on it fam. Just reported a bunch of frat boys at a Chuy’s restaurant.

          • Kylroy

            I’d say ICE would ignore this, but they’ll probably jump at the chance to do anything after days of getting trolled about extraterrestrials.

      • grownandsexy2

        I’ll bet the Temple students/frat crowd are headed that way now.

  • AKA The Sauce

    I’m gone be watching Guardians 2 drinking my Jack…no time for this holiday. I’m not in college anymore and I know better. Great post!!!

    • cyanic

      Never saw the original. Lack of interest. But they’re replacing Tower of Terror with theming of this franchise. Now I’m sour.

  • Spicy Kas

    Was wondering all the way through if it’s Diego writing under a pen name.

  • cyanic
    • OweMeOne Kenobi

      I can’t even feign shock or surprise at this fuckery

    • AzucarNegra

      This man used to be a pastor

      • cyanic

        Avoid repeating this fact.

    • Diego Duarte

      What an ignorant an absolute fucksh*t reaction.

      It’s “Cinco de MAYO” azzhole. You’re supposed to drink an entire jar of mayonnaise, obviously.

      • Well played!

      • Nametaken

        Wouldn’t it be 5 jars of mayonnaise?

    • Love Heals

      EVERY time I think I can’t be stunned by some mess like this, I’m proven wrong. I really read this mouth agape.

    • Glo

      OMFG.

    • Lord tell me this is a joke or satire. Then again, Arkansas isn’t exactly noted for its huge Mexican population, so…

  • Michelle is my First Lady

More Like This